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More needed on plastics recycling, EU tells industry

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More needed on plastics recycling, EU tells industry

Plastic water bottles - Image Pixabay

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission is looking for more commitments from industry on plastics recycling, following a preliminary assessment Tuesday of voluntary pledges received from industry.

"To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products," said EC vice-president Frans Timmermans: "While we are very grateful for the variety of contributions we received from different industry representatives, more needs to be done. We will now analyse which should be the next steps to further boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand. This is not only necessary for safeguarding our natural environment but also good for our economy as Europe leads the way."

Following its EU-wide pledging campaign, the EU executive's preliminary assessment shows that EU industry is significantly committed to recycling plastics - at least 10 million tons of recycled plastics could be supplied by 2025 if the pledges are fully delivered. However, on the demand side, only 5 million tons are expected so far, demonstrating that more will be needed to achieve the objective of a well-functioning EU market of recycled plastics.

The Commission it received over 60 pledges by the end of October and is now reviewing them in more detail to analyse their impact per plastic types on supply and demand aspects. The main pledges received came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for Expanded Polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET packaging. While the official pledging exercise announced in the Plastics Strategy is now closed, it say more companies are preparing their commitments.

Preliminary analysis indicates that pledges from recyclers would give enough recycled plastics to reach the EU target by 2025. However, as the demand for recycled plastics may increase quickly if good quality material becomes available in stable quantities and at competitive prices, based on the current pledges the demand for recycled plastics needs developing. Further actions should therefore be envisaged to support an increased demand for recycled plastics.

The Commission says it will now analyse the pledges in more detail and publish the results in the first quarter of 2019. It expects this to identify gaps between supply (recyclers) and demand (producers, converters, manufacturers) for the different plastic types, and guide future actions, including the ongoing assessment of regulatory or economic incentives in targeted sectors such as the automotive, construction and packaging sectors that were announced in the Plastics Strategy.

European Strategy for Plastics - voluntary pledges

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